DID YOU KNOW: Marie Grace Augustin and Ives Heraldine Rock

By Anselma Aimable, SNO Contributor

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Rock was St. Lucia’s first elected female parliamentarian.

Did you know St. Lucia’s first female nominated parliamentarian was Marie Grace “Petite” Augustin?

To the female population on the island she epitomised achievements, ingenuity, bravery and daring.  She enjoyed the outdoors and loved cows and horses and was a very good horsewoman; she also rode cows and she even considered a career as a jockey.  Augustin was the first lady to join the St. Lucia Cricket Club.

In July 1912, after attending high school in Antigua, Augustin attained a certificate from the University of Cambridge.  Upon her return to St. Lucia she decided on a nursing career, and by October 1918 she obtained a general nursing and midwifery certificate.  Augustin decided she could do more with her life; then she went on to study law for four years with the objective of becoming a lawyer.

However in 1923, when she went to the Registrar’s Office to sit her bar exams she was refused by Acting Chief Justice J.E.M. Salmon who informed her that the legal profession in St. Lucia made no allowance for the inclusion of women.  During that era the law only made provision for a “he” and not a “she” in the legal profession.

Frustrated but undaunted, she turned to agriculture and made her parents estate (D’aubayan) her pride and joy.  She planted many different crops and was the first person to grow coconuts on a large scale and tap into the copra industry.  Then when she heard about the refrigerated ships she immediately went into banana production.  Augustin was the first lady to manage a large estate.

During that time, the journey to and from Castries usually took two days but the ingenious Augustin ordered a motor-cycle from England and reduced the time to four hours.  Her ingenuity did not stop there – she opened a grocery shop in the Micoud community hence eliminating the long journey to Castries by her workers and the community. She opened a hotel to accommodate the many visitors passing through Micoud. As a qualified nurse and midwife, she trained young women to staff a clinic which she opened and organized for a medical doctor to visit on a bi-weekly basis.

Being a committed and hard worker, when the banana industry was infected with disease, Augustin chartered a sail-boat to Guadeloupe and obtained a shipment of disease-resistant banana plants to replace the diseased ones. Her expertise and her advice were always sought after by government officials.

After the devastating 1948 fire, when people could not get furniture, it was Augustin who brought unemployed cabinet-makers to her estate to train the men in the community in furniture making. That became a large and thriving industry for the Augustins which created employment for a large number of men.  Augustin was sought after by many companies to be part of their organisations and she became a director of the Coconut Growers Association, the Sugar Manufactures’ Ltd, the Copra Manufacturers’ Ltd, the Banana Growers’ Association, the Agricultural Credit Fund and the Augustin Sisters Investment Fund.

Marie Grace Augustin received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in June 1957 and passed away at the age of 98 on March 30, 1996.

Source:  Pioneers & Forerunners – Saint Lucia’s First Ladies by Margot Thomas, 2012


Did you know who the first elected female parliamentarian in St. Lucia was? She was Ives Heraldine Rock who resigned from her position as public relations officer of the St. Lucia Banana Growers Association to begin a political career in 1964.

Rock was elected first vice president of the United Workers Party until 1979. In June 1964, she contested the general elections for the first time against George Frederick Lawrence Charles in the South Castries seat but was unsuccessful.  In December 1964, Rock successfully contested the local government election for a seat on the Castries Town Board.

On May 3, 1974, Rock successfully contested the general elections for the South-East Castries seat against the extremely popular George Odlum.  She was appointed minister responsible for community development, housing, water, sports, youth, social affairs, co-operatives and ecclesiastical affairs; Rock held that post until 1979.  However she decided not to contest the general elections in 1982, but when UWP won the 1982 elections she was appointed a senator on the government side until 1987.  She served on various private and public boards including Board of Directors of the St. Lucia Electricity Services and the Development Control Authority.
Rock was appointed Justice of the Peace (Juge de Paix) in 1965 and was invested as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.  She passed away on August 31, 2012.

Source:  Pioneers & Forerunners – Saint Lucia’s First Ladies by Margot Thomas, 2012

St. Lucia News Online welcomes our readers to this new feature which will run every Tuesday and Thursday. It is written by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]

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  1. yup she is my gran Aunt,and she was a fighter to the end!

  2. Love it...except where Augustin was barred from doing her exams. Extremely interesting!


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